FDA Food Code 2009: Annex 3 - Public Health Reasons / Administrative Guidelines - Chapter 5, Water, Plumbing, and Waste

Public Health Reasons / Administrative Guidelines for:


5-101.11 Approved System.

Water, unless it comes from a safe supply, may serve as a source of contamination for food, equipment, utensils, and hands. The major concern is that water may become a vehicle for transmission of disease organisms. Water can also become contaminated with natural or man-made chemicals. Therefore, for the protection of consumers and employees, water must be obtained from a source regulated by law and must be used, transported, and dispensed in a sanitary manner.

5-101.12 System Flushing and Disinfection.

During construction, repair, or modification, water systems may become contaminated with microbes from soil because pipes are installed underground or by chemicals resulting from soldering and welding. Floods and other incidents may also cause water to become contaminated. Chemical contaminants such as oils may also be present on or in the components of the system. To render the water safe, the system must be properly flushed and disinfected before being placed into service.

5-101.13 Bottled Drinking Water.

Bottled water is obtained from a public water system or from a private source such as a spring or well. Either means of production must be controlled by public health law to protect the consumer from contaminated water.


5-102.11 Standards.

Bacteriological and chemical standards have been developed for public drinking water supplies to protect public health. All drinking water supplies must meet standards required by law.

5-102.12 Nondrinking Water.

Food establishments may use nondrinking water for purposes such as air-conditioning or fire protection. Nondrinking water is not monitored for bacteriological and chemical quality or safety as is drinking water. Consequently, certain safety precautions must be observed to prevent the contamination of food, drinking water, or food-contact surfaces by nondrinking water. Identifying the piping designated as nondrinking waterlines and inspection for cross connections are examples of safety precautions.

Irrigation water used in the cultivation of fresh produce, e.g. herb gardens or other onsite gardens, is another example of nondrinking water. Whenever water comes into contact with fresh produce, its quality dictates the potential for pathogen contamination. Water has the potential to be a direct source of contamination and vehicle for spreading contamination. Research has shown that irrigation water can increase the frequency of pathogen contamination of harvested produce, and may contain or convey pathogens, such as Salmonella spp. Where used, irrigation water should be adequate and approved for its intended use in accordance with Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) that minimize the potential for contaminated water to contact the edible portion of the crop. FDA's "Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh-cut Fruit and Vegetables" provides useful information about GAPs and safely growing, harvesting, washing, sorting, packing and distributing produce.

5-102.13 Sampling.

Wells and other types of individual water supplies may become contaminated through faulty equipment or environmental contamination of ground water. Periodic sampling is required by law to monitor the safety of the water and to detect any change in quality. The controlling agency must be able to ascertain that this sampling program is active and that the safety of the water is in conformance with the appropriate standards. Laboratory results are only as accurate as the sample submitted. Care must be taken not to contaminate samples. Proper sample collection and timely transportation to the laboratory are necessary to ensure the safety of drinking water used in the establishment.

5-102.14 Sample Report.

The most recent water sampling report must be kept on file to document a safe water supply.

Quantity and Availability

5-103.11 Capacity.

Availability of sufficient water is a basic requirement for proper sanitation within a food establishment. An insufficient supply of safe water will prevent the proper cleaning of items such as equipment and utensils and of food employees' hands.

Hot water required for washing items such as equipment and utensils and employees' hands, must be available in sufficient quantities to meet demand during peak water usage periods. Booster heaters for warewashers that use hot water for sanitizing are designed to raise the temperature of hot water to a level that ensures sanitization. If the volume of water reaching the booster heater is not sufficient or hot enough, the required temperature for sanitization can not be reached. Manual washing of food equipment and utensils is most effective when hot water is used. Unless utensils are clean to sight and touch, they cannot be effectively sanitized.

5-103.12 Pressure.

Inadequate water pressure could lead to situations that place the public health at risk. For example, inadequate pressure could result in improper handwashing or equipment operation. Sufficient water pressure ensures that equipment such as mechanical warewashers operate according to manufacturer's specifications.

Distribution, Delivery, and Retention

5-104.11 System.

Inadequate water systems may serve as vehicles for contamination of food or food- contact surfaces. This requirement is intended to ensure that sufficient volumes of water are provided from supplies shown to be safe, through a distribution system which is protected.

5-104.12 Alternative Water Supply.

Water from an approved source can be contaminated if inappropriately conveyed. Improperly constructed and maintained water mains, pumps, hoses, connections, and other appurtenances, as well as transport vehicles and containers, may result in contamination of safe water and render it hazardous to human health.


5-201.11 Approved.

Plumbing systems and hoses conveying water must be made of approved materials and be smooth, durable, nonabsorbent, and corrosion-resistant. If not, the system may constitute a health hazard because unsuitable surfaces may harbor disease organisms or it may be constructed of materials that may, themselves, contaminate the water supply.

Design, Construction, and Installation

5-202.11 Approved System and Cleanable Fixtures.

Water within a system will leach minute quantities of materials out of the components of the system. To make sure none of the leached matter is toxic or in a form that may produce detrimental effects, even through long-term use, all materials and components used in water systems must be of an approved type. New or replacement items must be tested and approved based on current standards.

Improperly designed, installed, or repaired water systems can have inherent deficiencies such as improper access openings, dead spaces, and areas difficult or impossible to clean and disinfect. Dead spaces allow water quality to degrade since they are out of the constant circulation of the system. Fixtures such as warewashing sinks that are not easily cleanable may lead to the contamination of food products.

5-202.12 Handwashing Facility, Installation.

Warm water is more effective than cold water in removing the fatty soils encountered in kitchens. An adequate flow of warm water will cause soap to lather and aid in flushing soil quickly from the hands. ASTM Standards for testing the efficacy of handwashing formulations specify a water temperature of 40°C ±2°C (100 to 108°F).

An inadequate flow or temperature of water may lead to poor handwashing practices by food employees. A mixing valve or combination faucet is needed to provide properly tempered water for handwashing. Steam mixing valves are not allowed for this use because they are hard to control and injury by scalding is a possible hazard.

5-202.13 Backflow Prevention, Air Gap.

During periods of extraordinary demand, drinking water systems may develop negative pressure in portions of the system. If a connection exists between the system and a source of contaminated water during times of negative pressure, contaminated water may be drawn into and foul the entire system. Standing water in sinks, dipper wells, steam kettles, and other equipment may become contaminated with cleaning chemicals or food residue. To prevent the introduction of this liquid into the water supply through back siphonage, various means may be used.

The water outlet of a drinking water system must not be installed so that it contacts water in sinks, equipment, or other fixtures that use water. Providing an air gap between the water supply outlet and the flood level rim of a plumbing fixture or equipment prevents contamination that may be caused by backflow.

5-202.14 Backflow Prevention Device, Design Standard.

In some instances an air gap is not practical such as is the case on the lower rinse arm for the final rinse of warewashers. This arm may become submerged if the machine drain becomes clogged. If this failure occurs, the machine tank would fill to the flood level rim, which is above the rinse arm. A backflow prevention device is used to avoid potential backflow of contaminated water when an air gap is not practical. The device provides a break to the atmosphere in the event of a negative pressure within the system. Minerals contained in water and solid particulate matter carried in water may coat moving parts of the device or become lodged between them over time. This may render the device inoperative. To minimize such an occurrence, only devices meeting certain standards of construction, installation, maintenance, inspection, and testing for that application may be used. The necessary maintenance can be facilitated by installing these devices in accessible locations.

5-202.15 Conditioning Device, Design.

Water conditioning devices must be designed for easy disassembly for servicing so that they can be maintained in a condition that allows them to perform the function for which they were designed.

Numbers and Capacities

5-203.11 Handwashing Sinks.

Because handwashing is such an important intervention in the control of foodborne illness, sufficient handwashing sinks must be available to make handwashing not only possible, but likely to occur at all appropriate times and places as outlined in Sections 2-301.14 and 2-301.15.

According to Greig et el. (July 2007) an analysis of 816 reported outbreaks of infected worker-associated outbreaks from 1927-2006 found that over 61% of these outbreaks came from food service facilities and catered events, and another 11% of them are attributed to schools, day care centers and health care institutions. The two most frequently reported risk factors associated with these implicated food workers was bare hand contact with food, and failure to properly wash hands.

Green et al (JFP, March 2007) found that handwashing was more likely to occur in restaurants whose food workers received food safety training, had more than one handwashing sink, and had a handwashing sink in the observed worker's sight. This suggests that improving food worker hand hygiene requires more than food safety education.

5-203.12 Toilets and Urinals.

Adequate, sanitary toilet facilities are necessary for the proper disposal of human waste, which carries pathogenic microorganisms, and for preventing the spread of disease by flies and other insects.

5-203.13 Service Sink.

Mop water and similar liquid wastes are contaminated with microorganisms and other filth. Waste water must be disposed of in a sanitary manner that will not contaminate food or food equipment. A service sink or curbed cleaning facility with a drain allows for such disposal.

5-203.14 Backflow Prevention Device, When Required.

The delivery end of hoses attached to hose bibbs on a drinking water line may be dropped into containers filled with contaminated water or left in puddles on the floor or in other possible sources of contamination. A backflow prevention device must be installed on the hose bibb to prevent the back siphonage of contaminated liquid into the drinking water system during occasional periods of negative pressure in the water line.

5-203.15 Backflow Prevention Device, Carbonator.

When carbon dioxide is mixed with water, carbonic acid, a weak acid, is formed.

Carbonators on soft drink dispensers form such acids as they carbonate the water to be

mixed with the syrups to produce the soft drinks. If carbon dioxide backs up into a copper water line, carbonic acid will dissolve some of the copper. The water containing the dissolved copper will subsequently be used in dispensing soft drinks and the first few customers receiving the drinks are likely to suffer with the symptoms of copper poisoning.

An air gap or a vented backflow prevention device meeting ASSE Standard No. 1022 will prevent this occurrence, thereby reducing incidences of copper poisoning.

Location and Placement

5-204.11 Handwashing Sinks.

Hands are a common vehicle for the transmission of pathogens to foods in an establishment. Hands can become soiled with a variety of contaminants during routine operations. The transfer of contaminants can be limited by providing food employees with handwashing sinks that are properly equipped and conveniently located.

A handwashing sink that is properly located is one that is available to food employees who are working in food preparation, food dispensing, and warewashing areas. Handwashing sinks that are blocked by portable equipment or stacked full of soiled utensils and other items, are rendered unavailable for employee use. Nothing must block the approach to a handwashing sink thereby discouraging its use, plus it must be kept clean and well stocked with soap and sanitary towels to facilitate frequent use. Therefore, a handwashing sink that is located in the immediate work area, or between work areas that the Code states must be equipped with handwashing sinks, depending upon the size and function of the facility, would be considered properly located. Such placement of handwashing sinks facilitates frequent handwashing by food employees in all work areas.

5-204.12 Backflow Prevention Device, Location.

Backflow prevention devices are meant to protect the drinking water system from contamination caused by backflow. If improperly placed, backflow prevention devices will not work. If inconveniently located, these devices may not be accessed when systems are extended, altered, serviced, or replaced. Over a period of time, unserviced devices may fail and system contamination may occur.

5-204.13 Conditioning Device, Location.

When not located for easy maintenance, conditioning devices will be inconvenient to access and devices such as filters, screens, and water softeners will become clogged because they are not properly serviced.

Operation and Maintenance

5-205.11 Using a Handwashing Sink.

Facilities must be maintained in a condition that promotes handwashing and restricted for that use. Convenient accessibility of a handwashing facility encourages timely handwashing which provides a break in the chain of contamination from the hands of food employees to food or food-contact surfaces. Sinks used for food preparation and warewashing can become sources of contamination if used as handwashing facilities by employees returning from the toilet or from duties which have contaminated their hands.

5-205.12 Prohibiting a Cross Connection.

Nondrinking water may be of unknown or questionable origin. Waste water is either known or suspected to be contaminated. Neither of these sources can be allowed to contact and contaminate the drinking water system.

5-205.13 Scheduling Inspection and Service for a Water System Device.

Water system devices, such as filters and backflow preventers, are affected by the water in the system. How devices are affected depends on water quality, especially pH, hardness, and suspended particulate matter in the water. Complexity of the device is also a factor. Manufacturer recommendations, as well as inspection and maintenance schedules for these devices, must be strictly followed to prevent failure during operation.


5-205.14 Water Reservoir of Fogging Devices, Cleaning.

Water reservoirs that have poor water exchange rates, such as reservoirs for some humidifiers or aerosol or fogging devices, and that are directly or indirectly open to the atmosphere, may be contaminated with respiratory pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila. This organism is extremely infectious and can be transmitted through very small droplets of a fogger or humidifier. It is important that the manufacturer's cleaning and maintenance schedule be scrupulously followed to prevent a reservoir from colonization by this bacterium.

5-205.15 System Maintained in Good Repair.

Improper repair or maintenance of any portion of the plumbing system may result in potential health hazards such as cross connections, backflow, or leakage. These conditions may result in the contamination of food, equipment, utensils, linens, or single-service or single-use articles. Improper repair or maintenance may result in the creation of obnoxious odors or nuisances, and may also adversely affect the operation of warewashing equipment or other equipment which depends on sufficient volume and pressure to perform its intended functions.


5-301.11 Approved.

Materials used in the construction of a mobile water tank are affected by the water they contact. Tank liners may deteriorate and flake. Metals or platings can be toxic. To prevent the degradation of the quality of the water, it is important that the materials used in the construction of the tank are suitable for such use.

Design and Construction

5-302.11 Enclosed System, Sloped to Drain.
5-302.12 Inspection and Cleaning Port, Protected and Secured.

The tank must be a closed system from the filling inlet to the outlet to prevent contamination of water. It is important that the bottom of the tank be sloped to the outlet to allow the tank to drain completely, to facilitate the proper cleaning and disinfection of the tank, and to prevent the retention of water or solutions after cleaning.

Some tanks are designed with an access opening to facilitate the cleaning and servicing of the water tank. The access must be constructed to prevent the opening from becoming a source of contamination of the water.

5-302.13 "V" Type Threads, Use Limitation.

V-type threads are difficult to clean if contaminated with food or waste. To prevent the contamination of the drinking water, this type of thread should only be used on water tank inlets and outlets if the connection is permanent which eliminates exposed, difficult-to-clean threads.

5-302.14 Tank Vent, Protected.

Water tanks are equipped with a vent to preclude distortion during filling or draining. The vent should be equipped with a suitable screen or filter to protect the tank against the entry of insects or other vermin that may contaminate the water supply.

5-302.15 Inlet and Outlet, Sloped to Drain.

Both the inlet and outlet must be sloped to drain to prevent the pooling of possibly contaminated water or sanitizing solution.

5-302.16 Hose, Construction and Identification.

Hoses used to fill potable water tanks should be dedicated for that one task and should be identified for that use only to prevent contaminating the water. Hoses must be made of a material that will not leach detrimental substances into the water.

Numbers and Capacities

5-303.11 Filter, Compressed Air.

Compressor pistons are lubricated with oil to minimize wear. Some of the oil is carried into the air lines and if not intercepted may contaminate the tank and water lines.

5-303.12 Protective Cover or Device.

Protective equipment provided for openings of the water supply must be in use to prevent contamination which may be present where the supply is exposed to the environment, i.e., at water inlets or outlets or the ends of transfer hoses.

5-303.13 Mobile Food Establishment Tank Inlet.

Mobile units may be particularly vulnerable to environmental contamination if soiled hose connections are coupled to the tank inlet.

Operation and Maintenance

5-304.11 System Flushing and Disinfection.

Contaminants of various types may be introduced into a water system during construction or repair or other incidents. The system must be flushed and sanitized after maintenance and before it is placed into service to prevent contamination of the water introduced into the tank.

5-304.12 Using a Pump and Hoses, Backflow Prevention.

When a water system includes a pump, or a pump is used in filling a water tank, care must be taken during hookup to prevent negative pressure on the supplying water system. Backflow prevention to protect the water supply is especially necessary during cleaning and sanitizing operations on a mobile system.

5-304.13 Protecting Inlet, Outlet, and Hose Fitting.

When not connected for use, water inlets, outlets, and hose fittings should be closed to the environment. Unless capped or otherwise protected, filling inlets, outlets, and hoses may become contaminated by dust or vermin.

5-304.14 Tank, Pump, and Hoses, Dedication.

Hoses, pumps, and tanks used for food or water may not be used for other liquids because this may contaminate the water supply. If a hose, tank, or pump has been used to transfer liquid food, the equipment must be cleaned and sanitized before using it for water delivery. Failure to properly clean and sanitize the equipment would introduce nutrients, and possibly bacteria, into the water as well as inactivate residual chlorine from public water supplies.

Mobile Holding Tank

5-401.11 Capacity and Drainage.

Liquid waste from a mobile or temporary food establishment must be stored in a properly constructed waste tank to discourage the attraction of flies and other vermin. The waste tank must be 15% larger than the water storage tank to allow for storage of wastes and used water from the drinking water supply tank. The drain from the waste tank must be larger than the filling hose to prevent the use of the drinking water filling hose to drain the waste tank.

Retention, Drainage, and Delivery

5-402.10 Establishment Drainage System.

The drainage system must be designed and installed properly to prevent the backup of sewage and the possible contamination of foods or food-contact surfaces in the establishment.

5-402.11 Backflow Prevention.

Improper plumbing installation or maintenance may result in potential health hazards such as cross connections, back siphonage or backflow. These conditions may result in the contamination of food, utensils, equipment, or other food-contact surfaces. It may also adversely affect the operation of equipment such as warewashing machines.

The exception in paragraph 5-402.11(B) allows for a direct connection to the sanitary sewer system for floor drains originating in refrigerated spaces that are constructed as an integral part of the building structure. Examples of refrigerated spaces that are considered an integral part of the building include refrigerated prep rooms, meat cutting rooms, and refrigerated storage rooms. The exception specifically targets refrigerated spaces that are considered an integral part of the building. It does not apply to prefabricated walk-in refrigerators and freezers with prefabricated floors. It is not intended to apply to pieces of equipment, including those which may be located in a refrigerated room and which indirectly drain to a floor drain within the room. Drainage from equipment is addressed under paragraph 5-402.11(A).

5-402.12 Grease Trap.

Failure to locate a grease trap so that it can be properly maintained and cleaned could result in the harborage of vermin and/or the failure of the sewage system.

5-402.13 Conveying Sewage.
5-402.14 Removing Mobile Food Establishment Waste.

Improper disposal of waste provides a potential for contamination of food, utensils, and equipment and, therefore, may cause serious illness or disease outbreaks. Proper removal is required to prevent contamination of ground surfaces and water supplies, or creation of other insanitary conditions that may attract insects and other vermin.

5-402.15 Flushing a Waste Retention Tank.

Thoroughly flushing the liquid waste retention tank will prevent the buildup of deposits within the tank which could affect the proper operation of the tank.

Disposal Facility

5-403.11 Approved Sewage Disposal System.

Many diseases can be transmitted from one person to another through fecal contamination of food and water. This transmission can be indirect. Proper disposal of human wastes greatly reduces the risk of fecal contamination. This Code provision is intended to ensure that wastes will not contaminate ground surfaces or water supplies; pollute surface waters; be accessible to children or pets; or allow rodents or insects to serve as vectors of disease from this source.

5-403.12 Other Liquid Waste and Rainwater.

Liquid food wastes and rainwater can provide a source of bacterial contamination and support populations of pests. Proper storage and disposal of wastes and drainage of rainwater eliminate these conditions.

Facilities on the Premises

5-501.10 Indoor Storage Area.
5-501.11 Outdoor Storage Surface.
5-501.12 Outdoor Enclosure.
5-501.13 Receptacles.
5-501.14 Receptacles in Vending Machines.
5-501.15 Outside Receptacles.
5-501.16 Storage Areas, Rooms, and Receptacles, Capacity and Availability.
5-501.17 Toilet Room Receptacle, Covered.
5-501.18 Cleaning Implements and Supplies.
5-501.19 Storage Areas, Redeeming Machines, Receptacles and Waste Handling Units, Location.
5-501.110 Storage Refuse, Recyclables, and Returnables.
5-501.111 Areas, Enclosures, and Receptacles, Good Repair.
5-501.112 Outside Storage Prohibitions.
5-501.113 Covering Receptacles.
5-501.114 Using Drain Plugs.
5-501.115 Maintaining Refuse Areas and Enclosures.
5-501.116 Cleaning Receptacles.

Proper storage and disposal of garbage and refuse are necessary to minimize the development of odors, prevent such waste from becoming an attractant and harborage or breeding place for insects and rodents, and prevent the soiling of food preparation and food service areas. Improperly handled garbage creates nuisance conditions, makes housekeeping difficult, and may be a possible source of contamination of food, equipment, and utensils.

Storage areas for garbage and refuse containers must be constructed so that they can be thoroughly cleaned in order to avoid creating an attractant or harborage for insects or rodents. In addition, such storage areas must be large enough to accommodate all the containers necessitated by the operation in order to prevent scattering of the garbage and refuse.

All containers must be maintained in good repair and cleaned as necessary in order to store garbage and refuse under sanitary conditions as well as to prevent the breeding of flies.

Garbage containers should be available wherever garbage is generated to aid in the proper disposal of refuse.

Outside receptacles must be constructed with tight-fitting lids or covers to prevent the scattering of the garbage or refuse by birds, the breeding of flies, or the entry of rodents. Proper equipment and supplies must be made available to accomplish thorough and proper cleaning of garbage storage areas and receptacles so that unsanitary conditions can be eliminated.


5-502.11 Frequency.
5-502.12 Receptacles or Vehicles.

Refuse, recyclables, and returnable items, such as beverage cans and bottles, usually contain a residue of the original contents. Spillage from these containers soils receptacles and storage areas and becomes an attractant for insects, rodents, and other pests. The handling of these materials entails some of the same problems and solutions as the handling of garbage and refuse. Problems are minimized when all of these materials are removed from the premises at a reasonable frequency.

Facilities for Disposal and Recycling

5-503.11 Community or Individual Facility.

Alternative means of solid waste disposal must be conducted properly to prevent environmental consequences and the attraction of insects, rodents, and other pests.

Page Last Updated: 09/30/2015
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